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Overcoming lateral violence through love

My daughter is going through a phase of being afraid to fall asleep on her own. Every night for the last few weeks she has been up way past her bedtime – making excuses for getting out of bed 6 and 7 times a night. Now, I’m a pretty patient mom but one night, after

My daughter is going through a phase of being afraid to fall asleep on her own. Every night for the last few weeks she has been up way past her bedtime – making excuses for getting out of bed 6 and 7 times a night. Now, I’m a pretty patient mom but one night, after being frustrated with the late nights I tried to take a hard line.

When eight o’clock came around I announced bedtime. “Okay Halle its time for bed. March up those stairs and go get your jammies on.” I told her.

“Okay mommy!”, and she bounced up the stairs, her long brown hair swinging back and forth across her back as she went.

This was the easy part. Pajamas, storybooks and brushing teeth usually goes down without issue. When we hit the part where she has to lay down, close her eyes and let her mind go to sleep something unsettling takes over and for weeks now – she just can’t relax.

Suddenly I heard little feet creeping down the stairs. I looked at the clock and it was 9:30. “I just need a drink of water,” she said.

“Okay but back to bed right away,” I confirmed, as I hand her a glass of water.

For the next hour, every 15 minutes she would creep back down the stairs and have another story about why she couldn’t get to sleep. ‘I’m hungry.’ ‘There’s a weird noise in my room.’ ‘It’s too dark.’ ‘I don’t like my pajamas.’ The excuse list is creative and endless.

We tried storybooks, we tried teddybears, and we tried lullabies. We tried more blankets, we tried less blankets. We tried food, we tried chamomile tea and we tried talking it out. Finally after three hours of lovingly and consistently redirecting her back to her room she burst into tears. “I’m so tired but I can’t sleep without youuuuuu!” she wailed. “Mommy, it’s scary in my room when it’s dark” she cried.

A huge piece inside my heart broke for her. In that moment I saw two options: continue the hard line of discipline and let her cry it out until she fell asleep or pick her up in my arms and comfort her. It was an easy choice. I lifted my little girl in my arms and didn’t even give it a second thought. I lay down beside her and she snuggled into my chest, pressing her little fingers into my belly fat like she always does to find that place of comfort.

“Shhhh. Go to sleep now babe,” I whispered. In five minutes she was out like a light.

I remember being afraid like that when I was her age. Anytime I’d wake up from a nightmare I would crawl into bed with my parents and as soon as I was in that warm safe spot of love between them all my fears would disappear and I could rest again.

Fear is the absence of love. And in the presence of love, there can be no fear.

Writing this column is not easy. Every week I engage in heavy self-analysis and for the last six weeks it has been excruciating. I’ll write something down and then three or four paragraphs in I’ll delete it all. Even today I started out about six or seven times before I just cried in frustration. “I can’t write anything!”

Finally it hit me: I’m afraid. Afraid of what? Rejection mostly. Afraid that my thoughts, my feelings and my self-analysis would be ridiculed, negated, or inspire people to a campaign of hateration directed at me. It’s the plague to artists of all forms: self-doubt. The consuming beast of self that nothing you do it important or good enough. Heck I wish I was six years old again and that I could snuggle away my fears!

For a lot of us who grew up in the system of on-rez lateral violence – we didn’t get enough ‘community snuggles’. I’m talking about affirmations. Peer oriented affirmations that you belong, you matter and you’re doing a good job. Worse yet is that many of us did experience the exact opposite: like the crabs in the bucket syndrome for example. The minute you do something different or interesting somebody is waiting in the wings to attack you and start a critical campaign that what you’re doing sucks. It’s viral and it’s abortive to the creative process that is innate in so many of our Haudenosaune ‘cousints’.

I don’t have full understanding of the Great Law, or my Haudenosaune culture. I freely admit that. But one thing I do hold fast to and that is the teaching that the Peacemaker inspired my ancestors to cast down the weapons of war against one another. To me that is legit. To me it means never engage in an attack against another Haudenosaune person – ever. Further to that it also means to love one another. Forever and ever for all time: always keep the covenant of love and peace between one another. Never attack or fight your own people.

Sadly, not everybody behaves in this way. People engage in online bullying via character assassination and other such modes to try and out-do one another through gossip, public ridicule and humiliation. Often through social media. Often through the means they have available to them. Often for their own satisfaction. And that is the opposite of what the Creator told us to be. That is the opposite of a Good Mind. That spreads pain and darkness, divides the nation and brings our people down.

My point? Do not be afraid to confront the darkness when it arises.

Because I realized that even though negativity comes: the message of the Peacemaker is so pure that when you seek out His spirit in truth – it can illuminate and give the positive affirmation that evil attempts to void.

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Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow

Nahnda Garlow is Onondaga under the wing of the Beaver Clan of Six Nations. Nahnda has been a journalist with the Two Row Times since it's founding in 2013. She is a self-proclaimed "rez girl" who brings to the Two Row Times years of experience as a Haudenosaunee cultural interpreter, traditional dancer and beadwork aficionado. Nahnda is a member of the Canadian Association of Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.

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